It sits in the room as a monument to my shame: my son’s baby crib. Unlike myself, this crib has remained untouched by man. My son never slept a night in it. Today, my kid thinks it’s a great holder of toys and socks that have lost their mates. He doesn’t know what its true purpose is, because he’s been snoozing with my husband and myself since he was a baby. We are co-sleepers. And five years later, I’m still feeling judged like the mom who didn’t get it right.
My goal was to find my baby’s natural rhythm and set a realistic schedule. I’d be the first mom in history to get more sleep than my newborn! I was a prepared preggo. But I was not prepared for my baby to have colic. There was no natural rhythm to any of the wailing that kept us up all hours of the night. His colic made him scream like a person watching the “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones on repeat. I was desperate to find a way to help us all get some much-needed shut-eye.
In my mostly awake moments, I researched different sleeping techniques, trying to find anything that might work. The “cry it out” approach of letting a baby cry for a specific amount of time before offering comfort was no good for a newborn who was already crying it out nonstop. So, I moved on to the idea of bed-sharing or co-sleeping — which is exactly what it sounds like.
“Put your baby in your bed, and you’ll never get him out.”
In this creepy bed-sharing future, my kid would grow up codependent because I’d never let him be independent in his own bed. Sure, I had mom friends that had co-slept and loved it, but nothing scared me more than those that warned against it. I imagined that due to our co-sleeping my son would never be able to fulfill his true promise. He’d still be sleeping in our bed when his college acceptance letter arrived. Clearly, we’d need a bigger bed.
“Honey, what’s this in the freezer?” my husband asked as he pulled out my car keys.
Losing my keys in the freezer was a sleep-deprived cry for help. I decided to join the happy ranks of co-sleepers (who were probably happy because they were sleeping). I’d worry about getting him out of my bed later.
Later never came.
Happily, I discovered some great benefits to co-sleeping. After hearing so many negative comments about how my son might become too dependent the longer he remained in our bed, I was certainly apprehensive about keeping him there. When I saw how independent he was becoming and that this, “Mom, I can do it myself,” attitude continued, my worries diminished. There weren’t any bedtime struggles, and I could see the confidence he felt from being close to us at night infuse his day. If anything, co-sleeping has helped foster this autonomous attitude not deter it.
“Mom, why is this a ‘hi and bye’ world?”
That’s how it starts. Our sleepy conversations. Once we start snuggling, my son’s heart opens and all his deep observations and concerns from the day pour out. We discuss anything he brings up right before he falls asleep. I could ask him how he feels one hundred times over during the day and never hear these private, sleepy-time truths. I feel these talks have helped deepen his emotional awareness. His teachers have let us know how surprised they that he’s able to communicate how he feels so succinctly. I’m so happy that co-sleeping uncovered this. So, my husband and I decided to roll with the kicks in the head and let this thing take its course. And I decided not to tell anyone.